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Baltimoreans had a particularly good reason to be wary of the hype that built up to the opening of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," the previous entry in the series, opened in November to similar hoopla. The little film that opened in far fewer theaters the same day, "The Blind Side," was the one that continued to draw crowds and dominate word of mouth for months. By mid-December "New Moon" had ceased to be part of the national conversation. "Blind Side," centered on the early life of the Ravens' Michael Oher, was still going full force.

"Eclipse" will be eclipsed just as quickly, perhaps when "Inception" opens July 16. I saw "Eclipse" on the second day -- Thursday -- with a handful of people at a matinee. They did laugh when hunky werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) told willowy Edward (Robert Pattinson) "I am hotter than you." But the audience was gagging whenever Bella (Kristen Stewart) dropped in little tear grenades of pseudo-sensitivity, such as her wish to see that her mother was leading a full and satisfying life. There's more floss in the script than the vampires and werewolves must have used on their teeth.

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It was clear most of us had come simply to check out the phenomenon. 

I was amused to see once again how America replays its grand literary archetypes in pulp form. Philip Rahv, a founder of the proud highbrow journal Partisan Review, once divided American writers into "Paleface" -- the author of keen sensibility -- and "Redskin" -- the author of passionate expression. "Redskins" were "the true-blue offspring of the Western Hemisphere" while "Palefaces" (for good and ill) grappled with European traditions. You can't get a more basic expression of that conflict than American Indian werewolves like Jacob defending their land against evil bloodsuckers while American vampires like the Cullens struggle to become a new kind of nosferatu in the New World.

Otherwise, the best laugh I got from the soon-to-be-over "Eclipse" phenomenon came from reading that Sylvester Stallone was on Team Jacob. Stallone told The New York Times that he thought Taylor Lautner (above, with Kristen Stewart) was one of the young guys ready "to step up" into the ranks of two-fisted action heroes. Actually, I think Stallone is right: the "Twilight" saga is so soggy that doing a "Rocky" or a "Rambo" movie might be a step up. What do you think?

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